Volcanoes National Park 

Volcanoes National Park 

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes national park is a top ranked safari destination is Rwanda mostly because of the fascinating mountain gorilla trekking safaris, this park is also known as Par Nationale des Volcanoes in French and is located in north western region of Rwanda stretching around Virunga volcanoes massifs. The covers an area of 160 square kilometers and it is part of the Virunga conservation area consisting of Mgahinga national park found in Uganda and Virunga national park found in Virunga national park. 

Volcanos national park is famous for being a residence to the endangered mountain gorillas and Virunga volcanoes dotted around the park, the thick judges of volcanoes national protect a big population of mountains including wild and habituated ones. These mountain gorillas are fond of living on the high altitudes of the park and only found during mountain gorilla trekking safari, habituated mountain gorillas were put under habituation process which helped making them friendly to human presence and less hostile. Habituated mountain gorilla groups in volcanoes national park are 10 in number and they include 

  1. Susa Gorilla Group (Susa A Family)
  2. Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B)
  3. Sabyinyo Gorilla Group,
  4. Amahoro Gorilla Group
  5. Umubano Gorilla Group
  6. Agashya Gorilla Group
  7. Kwitonda Gorilla Group
  8. Hirwa Gorilla Group
  9. Bwenge Family Group 
  10. Ugenda Gorilla Family

Volcanoes national park stretches along Virunga volcanoes chain and encompasses 5 of 8 volcanoes of Virunga volcanoes chain and these include Karisimbi at 4,507 meters, Bisoke at 3,711 meters, Muhabura at 4,127 meters, Gahinga at 3,474 meters and Sabyinyo at 3,645 meters. These volcanoes and volcanoes national park at large are heavily forested with various vegetation cover at various altitude levels, at the elevation of 2400 – 2500 meters there are lower montane forests, at 2500-3200 meters there is Neoboutonia forests, at 2600 – 3600 meters there is Hagenia-Hypericum, at 3500 – 4200meters there is Lobelia wollastonite and at elevation of 4300 – 4500 there is secondary thicket, marshes and meadows. 30 % of volcanoes national park is dominated by bamboo forests. 

Volcanoes park is a home to other wildlife species such as golden monkeys, spotted hyenas, black fronted duiker, buffaloes, bushbucks and a variety of birds. Birds in Volcanoes national park are over 178 species such as handsome francolin, the Rwenzori turaco, the Archer’s ground robin, red-faced woodland warbler, the dusky crimson-wing, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, collared Apalis, Rwenzori batis, strange weaver and many more.

The park was established in 1925 becoming the first national park to be declared on African continent, in 1929 its boundaries were extended to Albert national park stretching over 8090 square kilometers and at that time it was under the management of the Belgian Colonial government.  

Safari activities to do in Volcanoes park 

Mountain gorilla trekking

Volcanoes national park is the prime Mountain gorilla trekking safari destination in Rwanda, the jungles of volcanoes national park habit a large population of mountain gorillas with only 10 habituated gorilla families which are visited on a mountain gorilla trekking safari. Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes habit one the high altitudes of the forested volcanoes, these mountain gorillas live in groups and they include Susa Gorilla Group (Susa A Family), Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B), Sabyinyo Gorilla Group, Amahoro Gorilla Group, Umubano Gorilla Group, Agashya Gorilla Group, Kwitonda Gorilla Group, Hirwa Gorilla Group, Bwenge Family Group and Ugenda Gorilla Family. Mountain gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park offers a visit to one of these families and a group of 8 people maximum is allowed on the visit, mountain gorilla trekking experience in Virunga national park takes about 4-6 hours depending on the movement of the mountains.  According to the rules and regulations, mountain gorilla offers only one hour to stay in the presence of mountain gorillas. Mountain gorilla trekking is done with assistance from an experienced game ranger and mountain gorilla trekking permit in volcanoes national park costs US$1500 each. 

Volcanoes National Park 
Gorilla Trekking

Golden monkey tracking 

Volcanoes national park is a home to a troop of golden monkeys habiting in the bamboo forests of the park thus offering golden mountain tracking, this activity offers a visit to the beautiful and playful golden monkeys in their natural habitat. The highlight of this activity is viewing golden monkeys play on bamboo trees, stuffing their checks with fruits and take memorable pictures. Golden monkey permit in Virunga national park costs US$100. 

Volcano hiking 

The Virunga ranges encompasses 5 volcanoes out of 8 Virunga massifs that are Karisimbi at 4,507 meters, Bisoke at 3,711 meters, Muhabura at 4,127 meters, Gahinga at 3,474 meters and Sabyinyo at 3,645 meters. Volcano hiking in Volcanoes national park is done on mount Karisimbi and mount Bisoke. Mount Karisimbi hiking takes you on the summit of mount Karisimbi the 6th highest mountain in Africa and it takes 2 days on round trip, with first day for reaching the summit and second day descending the volcano. Mount Bisoke hiking takes approximately 1 day with this activity commencing at exactly 7 am and the whole experiences takes about 7-8 hours.  Volcano hiking in volcanoes national park offers amazing scenic sights of the green vegetation and impressive views of other volcanoes. 


Caving safaris in volcanoes national park offers a memorable visit to Musaze caves, Musaze caves feature streams of water slowing flowing out rock ceiling and down the rocky walls to holes underneath the cave floor and numerous tunnels you will encounter on this experience. Caving experience takes about 2 hours and this duration you will learn more about the cave’s history, enjoy sights of bats hanging on cave’s walls and many more.  

Iby’Iwacu cultural village tour 

Iby’Iwacu cultural village tour is an incredible Rwanda cultural tour offering a visit to the Iby’Iwacu village “the guardian’s village” sharing borders with Virunga national park, a visit to this village offers an opportunity to encounter the local Rwandese people and share their heritage, cultural and traditional norms. In this village you are to participate in cultural activities such as guided community walk, visit king’s house replica, traditional dances and songs produced by traditional musical instruments such as African drums, visit the traditional healer and hear more about medicinal trees, shrubs and many more activities. 

Bird watching 

The park is an ideal birding destination in Rwanda for birders, the park is birders’ paradise hosting over 300 bird species including Albertine rift endemic species, resident species and migratory bird species thus a thrilling birding safari. Birding safari in volcanoes national park begins early in the morning so as to catch a glimpse of many birds before they runoff, this safari is done in assistance if a well-trained birding ranger who will help you identify most of the birds in the jungle. Birds encountered on birding safari in volcanoes national park include handsome francolin, the Rwenzori turaco, the Archer’s ground robin, red-faced woodland warbler, the dusky crimson-wing, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, collared Apalis, Rwenzori batis, strange weaver and many more. 

Accommodation in Volcanoes national park

While on a mountain gorilla safari in Rwanda’s volcanoes national park or other safari activity in the park accommodation is got from a number of hotel, safari lodges and camps. These accommodation establishments offer a safari, comfortable and quite atmosphere to stay in while on your safari, accommodation in Volcanoes national park ranges from luxury/up-market, midrange and budget and they include Mountain Gorillas’ Nest lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Virunga Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Village, Garr Hotel, Villa Gorilla, La Palme Hotel, Kinigi Guest house, Virunga Hotel, Red Rocks Rwanda and Home Inn.  

How to get to volcanoes national park 

Volcanoes park is located in Ruhengeri, Musaze district in the northwestern region of Rwanda and in a distance of about 106.3 kilometers from Kigali the capital city of Rwanda, getting to this amazing mountain gorilla trekking destination is very easy. International tourists use direct flights to Kigali international airport, these flights are offered by various airline companies such as KLM, Rwanda Air and many more. From Kigali international airport, a vehicle is used to get to the park on a drive of about 2-3 hours.

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